Channeling Creative Noise: A designer’s list for maintaining focus in the new year.
I’ve done it. I have fallen prey to the 9–5 and it’s been far too long since I touched a pixel for pleasure. Even more horrid is to think that the year is over and I didn’t write, produce or publish any real personal work. So now that I have a bit of a break I’ve decided to fix that.
Making those things happen is more of a challenge than it might seem. Finding my juju after drifting along seems like a chore. I am not short of ideas, but where do I start? Hopefully this article is the first step, and providing with my list might help others not get stuck in the same pit.
1. Find Inspiration
The great thing about the internet is that inspiration has a way of finding you, however distraction seems to move at a faster pace. Social networks can be a source for keeping track of what your favorite designers are up to, but you could easily fall into the void of watching cute animal videos and quickly become unproductive.
I have found that the tool that works best for me is Panda for Chrome. It allows me to have the latest from Designer News and Dribbble every time I open up a new tab. While it takes me a bit longer to navigate online since I pause to observe in between opening the next site, once I do I am pre-inspired.
I also use Pocket to save anything that catches my attention or stuff that I want to revisit at a later time (or from a different device).
What I really mean to say is: find the right tools to find your inspiration in the least distracting way.
2. Read More
While this is probably in most people’s resolution list for the next year, I know this to be specially important for fellow designers. There are many great resources and publications out there specifically written for us.
For example, today I read about finding some time each day to do something you want to do. Life gets in the way, and many of us have full time jobs, families, errands and tons of things that fool us into thinking that we have no time to fulfill our creativity in meaningful ways. However this can take as little as 30 minutes a day. If we respect that time great things can happen. Mind you, you won’t write the next best seller in 30 minutes one day, but 30 minutes-a-day is 10,950 minutes-a-year. That’s a lot of minutes to make something happen.
3. Find Things To Do
This is the one step I struggle with the most. I am not short on ideas, promise, but that’s actually my drawback. Remember a time when your room was so messy you didn’t know what to pick up first? The same is true with having too many things you want to do–it just becomes noise.
To remedy this I suggest taking a couple of Skillshare courses. They have a great variety on Design courses as well as Business, Technical and even Culinary classes. This helps channel ideas into more maneagable projects that can be just what the doctor ordered when creative energy is running low.
This has kicked me into starting to sketch, plan an icon pack I want to design and well, write as made apparent by this article.
4. Attend to Local Gatherings
I am terrible at this and am the first to admit. Not that I don’t like meetups and events, but just “can’t find time to attend”. Enough of this! Find great events to attend in your city even if they’re not directly related to what you do. Just being in the same space with other creative people is inspirational enough.
I recommend looking for your local Creative Mornings. Most cities have these and they are free. You just have to RSVP. Also check for local Dribbble Meetups or any other casual event that allows you to interact. These are not only great for motivational purposes, but networking really pays off–and I am not talking about befriending somebody on Facebook. Although that’s cool too.
5. Publish What You Create
Motivation doesn’t always spark on its own. Sometimes we have to show other people our sketches and their response provides with valuable information. Drafts, sketches or finished projects, share as you create and see how people respond to it.
So there you go. This serves as a reality check for me in this upcoming year and I have already started taking steps towards fulfilling these. I even applied #5 by publishing this very article. I hope this is helpful for other designers and artists who get stuck in the day-to-day and struggle to find time to fulfill their own path (pun intended).